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Logline it! – Week 14

Writing loglines is an essential skill for screenwriters, from early development through to the pitch. In this section, every week our panel reviews a few loglines posted to www.logline.it. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.


by The Judges

Model Behaviour

[box] “Jordan Rhodes is an honest detective investigating the heinous murder of a leading talent agent. As he delves into a melting pot of beauty, ego and violence, the stakes are raised when the killer distributes horrific crime-scene photographs to the press, thrusting a reluctant Jordan into the spotlight in a city where everybody wants to be famous.”[/box]

The judges’ verdict:


Phyllis: “This premise has promise. Reluctant celebrities in this age of FAME? Really? Interested to see how this character will be drawn. And I have a question… is this story based on the recent murder of a real-life female Hollywood publicist? Truth is definitely stranger than you know what… Good, solid concept here”

 Interested to see how this character will be drawn.

Steven: “It sets up a nice protagonist versus his environment conflict. The protagonist being the only one in his town who is unassuming and not out to be a celebrity, despite the fact that he lives and works in a fame-obsessed city. That works at a deep level. In this sense the killer/villain could work as the protagonist’s shadow, as the killer is clearly desirous of causing a sensation (in contrast to the hero’s low-key nature). There is even a suggestion here of the hero having to make a personal transformation to catch and defeat the villain”

It sets up a nice protagonist versus his environment conflict

James: Apart from the length this is a solid effort. It gives us a protagonist. He has a flaw that contrasts nicely with the world that he lives in. It has the inciting incident, one which conflicts with his flaw (honesty). My main complaint is this logline falls into the classic problem of over-description. ‘A melting pot of beauty, ego, violence…etc’  This isn’t really needed. It may help to create the world but more could be done with these words. He has his goal, now what are his stakes and is there any urgency behind them? If this can be added in than we will have a much better logline.”

A Perfect Story

[box] “Bella from the Planet Kabbalore is caught up in a civil war on the planet Delta 5. After a request from Delta 5’s Governor Zelack, the President of the New Commonwealth sends a rescue party, consisting of NSPA Agents and Commonwealth Search and Rescue teams. Their ship is attacked and the party crash lands and are left for dead on a planet which is occupied by intelligent undead and enemy soldiers”[/box]

The judges’ verdict:


Steven: “The viable story thread here is one of interstellar law agents having their ship attacked and forced to crash land on some primitive or hostile planet. A planet well removed from civilised space. Forget the zoombies and definitely the first two sentences of this logline are clunky and turgid. Call them star law agents, say, and then get on with the dramatic part of the story. Don’t encumber the reader with a dissertation on their departmental names.. ”

 The first two sentences of this logline are clunky and turgid

Geno: “This needs an “extreme logline make-over”, so you can start by deleting everything up until “Their ship…” This is where your story starts. Identify your protag; I assume it’s Bella. Who is she? What is the protag’s goal? Getting out of a civil war? She has to have more of a goal. The obstacles? Zombies. The stakes? Losing her life, and failing in her other goal, as yet unknown.”

Identify your protag…. Who is she? What is the protag’s goal?

Phyllis: ” If this scriptwriter takes the conventions of the zombie genre and subverts them, a unique and compelling narrative could emerge. It’s an ambitious task, but not impossible. And the logline [is] too complicated. Keep it simple and strong, identifying the protagonist, her goal and ultimately what’s at stake – the intelligent undead should be the icing on the proverbial pudding.”

If you have an opinion on any of these synopses or the feedback from the judges, please share it with us in the comments below. Please keep the discussion constructive. Even if your first instinct may be subjective, try to give us as objective a reply as possible. The objective is to all (that includes us, judges) learn from the exercise.

So what is your verdict? Would you want to see these films? Why (not)? Did the judges get it right? How would you improve the synopses/loglines and what do you feel might improve the stories behind them?

To read the full reviews and those from casual visitors, go to www.logline.it.

The Judges (click for details)


About the Author

James Michael

Comments 2

  1. The following is from several sources, the collected wisdom I’ve gathered on loglines:

    With the caveat that formulaic is usually bad, the
    most elegant formula for creating a great logline that I’ve seen is:

    “When [INCITING INCIDENT], a [SPECIFIC
    PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES].”

    Insert your script’s particulars with
    “extreme brevity” at the brackets.

    Then…

    One piece of advice someone once mentioned is that
    a good logline is a hook and a promise.

    I, myself, have gone by the rule tell the first
    two acts and tease the third.

    And no hype–they see through it.

    Here’s a trick someone told me to devise a
    logline for a screen story:

    Ask 3 or 4 questions starting from the end of your
    story and going back to the beginning.

    How can Marty come back from the past? (He has to
    reunite his parents)

    Why did he have to reunite his parents? (Because
    he has changed the past which drove them apart)

    Why did he change the past? (Because he accidently
    distracted his mother from noticing and falling in love with his father)

    Why did he find himself in the past? (To save his
    skin using the invention of a crazy scientist)

    So to make it a logline you combine the answers:

    “A young man, to save his skin, hides in the
    past thanks to the invention of a crazy scientist. He meets his future parents
    and accidently distracts his mother from noticing and falling in love with his
    father. So he is forced to bring them together or he will cease to exist.”

    Then you boil it down to get to one or two
    sentences:

    “A young man is transported to the past where
    he must reunite his parents before he and his future are no more.”

    Finally, here are some great articles on loglines:

    http://twoadverbs.site.aplus.net/loglinearticle.htm

    http://www.inktip.com/tips-loglines.php

    hhttp://johnaugust.com/2005/writing-loglines-for-a-comedy

    http://www.writersstore.com/writing-loglines-that-sell

    http://scriptshadow.blogspot.com/2011/06/scriptshadow-special-how-to-craft-damn.html#disqus_thread

    So feast on that, scribes!

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